Our home for our visit to the Thousand Islands area was the Swan Bay RV Resort in Alexandria Bay, NY. This was an outstanding find for our week’s stay. Their normal rates are a bit high, but they are a participating Passport America park and we were able to get the week for $180. Gated park, paved interior roads, concrete pads with brick patios, ample spacing between sites, nice pool with a tiki bar, right on the river with boat ramps and docks, playground for the kiddies, fenced dog walk area, and right next door to a grocery store.
On our arrival we immediately met our friendly neighbors, Andy and Adair. That first day was pretty much set up, then we hit Foxy’s, a recommended establishment, for dinner with Andy and Adair. We had a table overlooking the river and it would have been a spectacular sunset scene, except the weather gods did not want to smile upon us and it was overcast. But we had a nice visit with our new friends.
Our first full day Jeanne and I took a reconnaissance spin around the area. We drove into Alexandria Bay (AKA: A-Bay), down to Cape Vincent to scout the ferry to Canada, and stopped to do a little tasting at the St. Lawrence Distillery. A little later in the week we would hit Clayton Distillery and Dark Island Spirits as well. They were nice little local distilleries, but I’m afraid New York distilleries have got nothing on Kentucky distilleries.
A visit here would not be complete without seeing at least ONE of the castles, our choice was the Boldt Castle on Heart Island. We took the local ferry over from A-Bay and spent a few hours wandering the grounds and interior of the castle. Boldt made his money from a couple of small little “bed & breakfast” places called the Waldorf-Astoria, in NY, and the Bellevue-Stratford in Philadelphia, then wanted to build a monument to the love of his life, his wife Louise. She died at 42 years old before he was able to finish the monstrous castle and he ceased construction immediately. The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority now owns the property and is currently doing renovations/repairs to restore it to where Boldt left off on the original construction and then points beyond, possibly to finish it off. What has been done thus far is very nice, not on the magnitude of a Hearst Castle, but very impressive nonetheless.
For our foray into Canada, we decided to drive the Jeep over the Thousand Islands Bridge, then tour south through Gananoque and into Kingston. We did a walkabout in downtown Kingston and ended with lunch at the Kingston Brewing Co. The weirdest thing I ever saw happened while we strolled the main drag with all the restaurants and shops. As we strolled at about 12:30ish the sidewalk was jam packed, felt like we were walking in downtown NYC. We walked off the main drag to check on a couple of anciently old churches and when we returned at about 1:15ish the main drag sidewalk was a GHOST TOWN! I guess Canadians take their lunch time seriously…
The weather cleared just enough one day to allow us to give the bicycles a little workout, so we loaded them up and drove to Cape Vincent to catch the ferry over to Wolfe Island (Canada). We left the Jeep parked in Cape Vincent because I am a cheap bas#%rd and only wanted to pay the bicycle fee for the ferry, $3 each. A 10 minute ride got us to Wolfe Island and it was off to cruise some Canadian asphalt. We took a nice, leisurely pace through the countryside with all their wind turbines, to the only town on the island, Marysville, where the other ferry delivers one to Kingston. The Cape Vincent/Wolfe Island ferry is a private enterprise and very small, the ferry may be able to carry (6) vehicles at best. The Wolfe Island/Kingston ferry is run by the Canadian government and is free for use. The only problem is this is a very heavily used ferry for the island dwellers and the vehicles line up all the way through the tiny town. One local told me the ferry here could carry maybe (55) vehicles, tops, and having to wait for the next ferry is not uncommon. We were happy we were on bicycles.
Our last hurrah here we got together with Andy and Adair while Andy smoked some chicken and que’d some corn. We had a good time talking all things “full-timing” and about the places we were headed to.
Of course, moving day meant Murphy had to stick his big nose into my business, it rained steadily while I prepped (outside) for our travels. But we got the jacks up and it was Cooperstown, here we come!
Our home while in Cooperstown was Hartwick Highlands Campground for 3 days. At $49 per night it was about as inexpensive as could be found for the area as far as pay campgrounds goes. The campground was very nice, had a nice open field area where we were and another heavily wooded area for more of that “camping” feeling. They had a pool, arcade, store, playground, lots of cabins for rent, and a nice dog run. The site was large pull through, level gravel, lots of space (grass) between sites, and the interior road was easy to navigate.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum was ultra cool to see. 3 stories of everything baseball, it took us a good 2 hours to wander through, and I know I “glazed over” parts and pieces of it. The town of Cooperstown is a quaint little hamlet that contains shops for all things baseball as well. And just for once I got Murphy to show favor upon us. Cooperstown is also home to a large youth baseball complex called Cooperstown Dream Park. The weekend we were there just happened to be check-in weekend for a tournament about to start, involving a large army of young ball players and families. We picked Saturday to visit the HOF and luckily the teams were all busy so it was normal tourist traffic at the hall. Strolling through town one day later on Sunday and holy smokes(!!!) was it wall to wall kids in uni’s, all lined up out the door to visit the hall. Thanks, Murphy!
Well, heck. Hereabout these parts they have something called the Cooperstown Beverage Trail. OK, twist my arm. Ouch. So their “trail” includes a distillery, breweries, and wineries, 8 to be exact. Piece of cake, nailed ‘em all! Got customized pint glasses for the effort. Thanks to Butternuts Beer & Ale, Rustic Ridge Winery, Fly Creek Cider Mill, Pail Shop Vineyards, Cooperstown Distillery, Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown Brewing Co., and Bear Pond Winery. Now someone we spoke with on the trail mentioned this area also has another trail…an ice-cream trail. Oh, crap, there’s the kiss of death!!!
I guess I’ll put a cork in it for now. (Ha ha ha ha, sometimes I just KILL myself!) Moving day tomorrow, our short term goal right now is to survive past the Fourth of July holiday as far as getting places to stay. This corner of the world is getting harder to find parks for any length of stay because they have such a short season and we are in it. We are also finding many with size restrictions that do not allow for 40’ rigs. However, press on we must…